"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Most Unusual Gift

Christmas is over and the gifts are unwrapped. Gifts such as jewelry boxes (with jewelry encased!), candies, and candles. Even a padded floor mat on which to stand while I'm baking. But I have to admit the most unusual gift I received -- probably in my entire lifetime -- was this one given to me by my parents.

Yes, this is a picture of the delivery room where I first saw the light of day. Now tell me, other than my brothers and me, who else on the face of the planet received such a Christmas gift this year? I'd lay my money on no one.

But what a great gift! Here is the place it all began for me. The place where, after hearing her voice for 9 months, I first lay eyes on my mother. The place where I first felt the touch of warm human hands -- those of Dr. Gallemore. The place where I felt my first tremor of cold. The place I first expressed my neediness with cries and wails. The first place I was humanly loved.

But more than just a picture, the snapshot my Daddy took a few weeks ago when the doctor's office was closing, was a spiritual reminder. Just as I don't remember when I was physically born in this small clinic birthing room, I also don't remember my spiritual birth. I was too young. Yes, there are mile-markers along the way, but nothing that says "this was the day." And as recently as this morning, I was thinking of what it would be like to remember that "coming to Jesus" moment. And then I remembered this photo. I can't remember that moment of physical birth either, but through the testimony and witness of my parents, along with the fact I am who I am today, I know it happened. The same goes with my spiritual birth. Through the testimony and witness of my heavenly Father and the Spirit and who He has made me today, I know it happened whether I remember it or not.

So this morning, I thank God for "silly" and most unusual gifts. Sometimes they are the ones that mean the most.

Just an ordinary moment...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Christmas Postlude

While still wearing my new lavender fleece pajamas Mom and Dad gave me last night, I poured myself a cup of coffee this morning, turned on the Christmas tree lights and nestled into my favorite recliner to read the last entry in my Advent/Christmas devotional booklet. This is what I found.

"And she wore the flannel bathrobe to church the very first Sunday after Christmas,
Because it was the prettiest thing she had ever seen, and the Lord deserved the best.
And because it was 1933, and she didn't have a bathroom."

Now I'm not sure I can wear my flannel pj's to church this morning, but I can take a moment and be thankful.

O God, You gave your very best. May we offer no less.

Just an ordinary moment...

Quote from Will Campbell's Brother to a Dragonfly.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Light in a Manger

David and I were leaving the sanctuary late one evening last week after our lengthy rehearsal for the Christmas Keyboard Praise program that was to be held over the weekend. Being the last two to leave, David said, "Grab the door while I turn out the lights. I don't like it in here when it's dark." And so about the time he hit the light switches, I opened the door to the hallway where the emergency lights remained on. As David rushed to where I was standing holding the door, I reminded him of a truth: darkness is a coward. It flees light. For, you see, when I opened that door, the dark of the sanctuary did not dispel the light of the hallway; the light overcame the dark!

Ah, is this not what we celebrate this Christmas day? We don't rejoice that there is no darkness or suffering in the world, unless, of course, we have our heads in the sand, for indeed there is. Turn on your TV any time of day or night and hear about poverty, racism, corruption, etc. What we do claim, however, is that some 2000 years ago, God set loose a light in a manger which makes that darkness cower.

If you can find no other reason to celebrate today, precious reader, then celebrate this: The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5).

Merry Christmas to each of you for, indeed, the Light has come!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Gifts are Wrapped

It's the day before Christmas, and I'm ahead of schedule. Yes, this morning, all the gifts are wrapped and have been mailed or are just waiting here under the tree for their designated giftees to arrive. And the anticipation is about to kill me. Not because of what might be under the tree for me -- for at this point, there is none. (Okay, so I've looked.) But for what is under the tree for everyone else! I love the process of searching, buying, and wrapping. I love thinking about each individual whose name will go on that package. I love lavishing those I love at Christmas! No, you won't ever catch me buying "generically." Each gift is person selected. But as much as I love all of that, as much as I love finding the "perfect" gift, the best part comes when the recipient actually receives and opens that present.

We have a tradition at out house; even with the children grown, married, and coming home with spouses: only one gift can be opened at a time. All the presents are dispensed from beneath the tree, and then one by one, a gift is selected and all eyes are on the one opening his or her gift. And when they're through, the next person can open one. And around and around we go until all the gifts are laid bare and all the oohing and ah-ing is done. I'm not sure how the rest of my family feels about this little tradition, but it's special to me, because the individual unwrapping is the consummation of the whole process of the gifting.

This morning I've been thinking about all of this and I can't help wonder if God anticipated the Gift He would give. Did He have you in mind through the millennia? Did He have me in mind throughout the ages? Does He still anticipate the opening of the Gift each time it is presented to an individual?

Oh, how sad it would be for a gift to be left unopened on a shelf or in a closet or even under a tree after all the lights have been removed. But how much more unfortunate for God's precious Package to remain unwrapped.

John 3:16 reads, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son ... Talk about a hand-picked gift from a lavish God. It's a Gift that defies description, that transcends superlatives, and exceeds our imaginative powers. It is the highest, costliest, most precious gift ever given. Let us join with the apostle Paul: "Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!"

Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Applying Make-up

It was Friday morning and I was rushing through my normal routine, my goal being to make it on time to my nephew and great-niece's Christmas program at their pre-school. There are always so many "ordinary moments" to be had at such and I didn't want to miss a one of them. Needless to say, the telephone rang twice while I was hurriedly putting on my make-up. I'm not sure I was even kind; short anyway. But before I could hardly sit down and finish the slathering of color, the front doorbell rang! No way, I wasn't answering this one. There was too much to do to get out the door on time to get to the program. And so I quickly completed the application and headed on to the next thing -- drying my hair.

But then I thought that maybe I ought to at least check the front door to see if the early morning intrusion was just the post lady; after all, I was expecting some Christmas deliveries and I thought I did hear her truck drive by moments after the doorbell rang. And so opening the door ever so slightly so no passerby would see my still wet head and bathrobe, I peeked out. And sure enough, there it lay. A box.

Normally, on such a hectic and bustling morning, I would have tossed it on the table and waited until I returned home to open it. But I noticed the return address was listed Chris and Lisa Seaton, sweet friends from Texas, and curiosity just got the best of me. The hair would have to wait a moment longer. And so I carefully ripped into the box and inside was a book. But not just any book.

This precious couple had taken excerpts from my blog and had them put in hardback book form and gifted me with this treasure. Of course, it didn't take any time for the tears to spill over the newly applied make-up and completely ruin every effort up to that point. So I let them flow, and through the sobbing, I muttered, "Lord, what are you saying to me?" And there in the mundane of life, in the hustle and bustle of the season, God stopped me dead in my tracks and spoke a word to my heart.

Is that not just like God? To invade the ordinary moments of our lives? Oh, indeed it is.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night, when suddenly ...

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph ...

And the invasion of all invasions as he spoke to Mary: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

Yes, God has a way of breaking into our ordinary moments, our mundane mornings, and turning them into something so extraordinary and heavenly that we cannot help but be changed by it.

All of a sudden my day became different. God had spoken to me. The press and hustle of the morning took on a different mode. I finished drying my hair and then sat down in front of the mirror once again to re-apply the make-up which had been washed by the flood. But this time, there was serenity and peace and stillness. God had broken through; He had invaded my morning.

Thank you, Lisa and Chris, for being his instruments. I treasure with all my heart the gift -- both the one you gave and the one you are.

Just an ordinary moment...